Kim sent me a message on my Retro Mumma Facebook page asking for some advice on Bake Sales because her friend Tanya is running one to raise money for “Row for Isla”.
I have organised/ ran/ promoted/ baked for a few with the CWA Southern Belles and on my own mainly because I love to bake and I really get a lot out of giving back, I believe it gives you good luck/ karma.
They can also be loads of fun! If you have any helpful advice that you would like to share, please do!
1. In Australia we call them Cake Stalls and in America they call them Bake Sales.
When I first started out I thought the names were interchangeable but found out pretty quickly that’s not the case.
2. Start getting organised as early as you can.
Even a simple cake stall will take a lot of preparation so its best to get started early to avoid unnecessary stress.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have permission to fundraise.
Many charities have very strict guidelines on how money is raised and how their name and logos are used.
Quite often you will need to have permission in writing before you can do anything and the company will email you the logo’s you are allowed to use to promote the cake stall.
Many stalls at markets book out months in advance so you need to be quick to secure a good location for your cake stall.
I have found the best day to have a cake stall is on a Sunday because it gives people time on Saturday to go shopping for ingredients, bake and drop the food off.
2. The more the merrier! Many hands make light work.
A lot of work goes into a running a successful cake stall and its a lot less stress, work and more fun if you have lots of people involved.
You will also find that more people will want to get involved if they don’t have to do everything.
Making 100 cupcakes and running a stall for 5 hours on your own sounds a bit daunting but making a batch of cupcakes and running a stall with two other people for an hour or two sounds more doable.
You will need a leader who will organise the event and delegate responsibilities and tasks.
A treasurer who will organise the float, money box and be responsible for making sure the money gets to the charity/ correct manager for the cause you are fundraising for.
As many people as you can to help run the stall.
When the CWA Southern Belles run a cake stall we do it in shifts.
So two ladies will run the cake stall from 8-10am and then another two ladies will come and take over from 10am-12pm etc.
If you can get more than two people to a shift that’s great but not less than two otherwise it’s a bit hard when you get swamped or you need to go to the loo.
As many people as you can to help bake for the stall.
Have them drop if off on the day at the cake stall if they can so its really fresh and hasn’t travelled or been handled as much.
If they can’t drop it off on the day organise a central drop off place.
The CWA Southern Belles usually have one in Bunbury and one in Busselton so everyone doesn’t have to drive so far.
Someone that can make posters for the cake stall and promotional material to advertise the event.
If you are fundraising for charity they might send you some promotional material for free to use at the stall.
3. Location, location, location.
You could have the most beautiful cake stall, with the most delicious food but if you are set up in an open field with no shelter in July chances are, you are going to get rained on and not too many customers.
You also need to consider your target audience, who is going to buy the food?
You wouldn’t want to make Bacon and Veggie muffins to sell and a Vegetarian festival etc
My favourite place to have a cake stall is the Eaton Community Markets because they are inside a big recreation centre so it doesn’t matter if its raining, hailing or shining because you are indoors.
They also have toilets, food and drink, good lighting, plenty of parking and it feels safer – its well organised and everything is clear and out in the open.
You are not shoved out the back on your own somewhere near bushes or a car park which would make it really easy for a crook to grab the money tin or your hand bag and do a runner.
If the cake stall can’t be inside, borrow or buy a good quality waterproof gazebo that will give you some protection from the sun and rain.
Consider how you are going to get the gazebo to and from the event and who is going to help set it up.
Tresell tables are must, two should do it.
Its a good idea to have some hand sanitiser, spray and wipe and cloth/ paper towel to make sure everything is clean and some Coles/ Woolies plastic bags for rubbish or if a customer buys up big and needs a bag to put it all in.
4. Talk to your local council.
Find out what their rules and regulations are.
In the Shire of Capel when we sell food we have to have a label stating what ingredients went into the food so people can check for allergens.
I just type mine up on the computer and print them out and sticky tape them on the gladwrap covering the food.
Social media is really helpful! Start up a Facebook event and invite your friends, it may surprise you who would like to help out.
Send an email out asking people to help bake, run the stall or donate.
If you are fundraising for your local community or a charity your local paper may be able to help.
There is often a section in the paper that’s free to advertise non for profit community events.
Give them a call to find out.
Your local radio stations may also advertise your event for free.
Check out Community Connect and The Big Diary for more information.
6. Other help.
Some people are not bakers or they might be too busy to help out on the day so an Every Day Hero account is great way to raise money if people want to donate directly to the cause instead.
Ask local and online companies for help.
Coles and Woolworths sometimes give food vouchers to fundraising groups, you just have to provide a letter from the charity stating you have authority to fundraise.
A company Perth that I found online donated a big packet of cake mix and a container of Dream Whip so I could make cupcakes to raise money for charity last year.
I have also had a company donate lollies to make lolly bags.
Some cupcake companies/ cake companies might be interested in donating some goods.
A good idea is to ask them for a donation of goods in exchange for you displaying some of their promotional material at your cake stall.
To show your appreciation send a thank you email/ letter and if you have a Facebook page or you have created a Facebook event for the cake stall, say thank you online and tag their Facebook page.
7. Donation tin.
It’s always good to have a donation tin handy for people who don’t want to buy a cake but want to support the cause. Just keep an eye on it, they have been stolen off shop counters before.
8. Food glorious food!
My biggest advice is to keep it simple and to make it fresh.
Don’t make anything that needs to be kept in the fridge all that will go off/ stale quickly. No cream, no sponge cakes etc
If the Cake Stall is on Sunday try to make the food on the Saturday.
Keep in mind the cost of the ingredients. If you are making something with lots of chocolate, condensed milk, biscuits etc it can really start adding up.
If the recipe asks for a packet of biscuits to make a base for a slice etc use this recipe for a Vanilla Biscuit Base or a Chocolate Biscuit Base to save money (it also has less additives).
I recommend plating/ packaging the food so its ready for sale. It avoids the need for tongs, rubber gloves, paper bags/ containers and saves time.
Presentation is important but it needn’t be expensive or elaborate.
What I do is get a coloured disposable plate and place a serviette on top and then rearrange the food neatly on the plate and wrap it in glad wrap or cellophane for a nicer look.
Most councils require that you must label each plate of food with a list of ingredients.
I type mine out on computer, print them off, cut them out and stick the label on with sticky tape.
I don’t recommend advertising food as allergy free.
Some people refrain from some foods like nuts, gluten, dairy for health reasons so it would not be the end of the world if they accidentally ingested a little bit but for other people it could be potentially fatal.
So I think it’s just safer for everyone if you just list the ingredients and then customers can make up their own minds.
The best food to make for a Cake Stall is simple, easy, quick to prepare, that’s fresh, cost-effective using good quality ingredients.
Don’t spend lots of time and money making something elaborate unless it is to be auctioned off otherwise chances are you wont make much of a profit.
Your time is better spent making lots of different types of quick, cost efficient, yummy treats.
I try to make a good range of treats; a whole cake, a loaf, cupcakes, biscuits & a slice.
I choose those types of foods because that’s what I am good at making and I know they taste good but there are so many other things you could make.
As for recipes, stick to tried and true recipes that you know.
I find the best recipes come from CWA or Woman’s Weekly Cookbooks.
In my experience the one item that outsells every other is small cupcakes/ patty cakes decorated simply with lollies.
My biggest customers have always been primarily children and there are not many kids that can go past a colourful cupcake decorated with smarties!
Another good one for the kids are cake pops because they are a small amount of cake, decorated on a stick so its portable and there is less mess.
The most important thing is to not undersell your products. If you spend an hour and $20 making a cake and then you sell it for $10 you might as well of just donated that $20!
As a rule I always try to at least double what I have spent. You must consider the cost of the ingredients, electricity, gas, fuel to drop the goods off, the cost of the packaging, your time and stall fee.
There is nothing worse than spending time and money baking a heap of food and then it rains or its just not your target audience and the food doesn’t sell and you end up taking home more food than you brought with you.
If you cant at least make the cost of your ingredients back you are better off just donating directly to the cause.
Most biscuit recipes make 24 biscuits. I stretch it out a little and make 25 biscuits. If the batch of biscuits cost me around $7 to make I will split the biscuits up and put 5 on a plate and sell the plate of biscuits for $3 each.
If you only have an hour to go and still have lots of stock you can always bring the prices down or give customers deals if they buy more than one or two plates.
This is not a comprehensive list, it’s just recipes that I know taste amazing and would be suitable to make to sell at a cake stall.
Nigella Lawson’s Perfect Every Time Lemon Drizzle Cake
Chocky Banana Bread
Choc Chip Biscuits
Easy Chocolate Cake
Quick Chocolate Cupcakes
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Banana Cake with Lemon Drizzle
10. Have fun!
I have had some good times and met some really great people while being a part of a cake stall.
Take photo’s, dress up, wear a cute apron or put balloons up and just enjoy it.
What are your favourite foods to buy at a cake stall? Feel free to comment below.